I knew that it would be hard, taking on essentially full responsibility for the children. I just hadn't realized which bits of it would be the toughest. The practicality, the keeping the house tidy and the kids organized hasn't been too bad. I have a new homebodiness about our little place, I'm quite proud of how I've put together the rather shabby little rental house here in Del Mar. I may have used an excess of teal in the decor (who doesn't love teal, there are so many pretty shades and it's so San Diego with its essence of ocean?!), but the organization systems I restarted our lives with, involving multiples of labeled sterilite containers, gives cleaning up such a satisfying feeling of returning order to the universe that I do it quite often with something close to pleasure.
The emotional part of lone parenting is the hard part. Geekygirl especially is testing my limits. I know, intellectually, that she is anxious and worried. She isn't a kid who does well with change. She is able to tell me this sometimes, but more often she slips imperceptibly from regular defiance into a raging tantrum more appropriate for a three year old, and I struggle to bring her back to the world without being kicked or bitten. In the past two weeks I have physically carried her into school and left her screaming in the principal's office (because the only pair of leggings deemed acceptable for school were not dry - I miss school uniform!), and at bedtime have had to have her in time outs where she sat and screamed "mommy you are killing me" so loudly I expected the police to show up at the door.
Weekends are long. Today the mood started out badly; the roku player wasn't working so I didn't get my extra hour in bed while the kids watched "Pinky Dinky doo". It looked up as they joyfully tucked into the promised weekend breakfast of chocolate chip waffles with chocolate syrup (though the diabetes researcher in me cringes at how far I have fallen), and it hummed along happily as we tackled the promised activity of the day, painting ceramics at one of those "paint your own stuff" places in the mall, but then it crumbled dramatically when none of the restaurants we tried served anything acceptable for lunch and I refused to take the kids to the swimming pool (we went the day before). I carried my howling 45lb six year old across the parking lot in 80 degree heat as she bit down on my shoulder like a miniature vampire.
In full fury still when we returned home, she proceeded to tear her bedroom apart, upending every carefully labelled bin of stuff all over the bedroom floor.
Then we put it all back into place together, as she calmed down, and eventually came to me with a proper apology. Well almost a proper apology. It was followed by a request to go out for dinner "I'll even try something new, mummy" she promised. I wasn't sure whether it was the best parenting decision to agree to this after the appalling behaviour of most of the day, but I was tired of crappy food. Decisions like this are now mine alone to mess up, so I drove the kids to fancy downtown Del Mar, to a nice Italian place with an ocean view, where we had a lovely meal. The kids were buzzing after the gelato so we quite spontaneously decided to walk down to the beach. We found a free concert going on, a scene of families dancing and picnicking along to classic rock against a backdrop of surfers and beach volleyball.
Moments like this evening, of watching the sun slip into the ocean, watching the children glow in the warm evening light, feeling the salty breeze sift the warm air and the sand between my toes, I can imagine that we can be happy here. I can feel, for the first time, even fortunate to have been given the opportunity to try it.